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Published: April 29th 2012
Stormy skies over the Port for our departure
Fiji : The Islands
Fiji is around 1331 miles from Auckland travelling North along the same timeline. The total number of islands constituting the Fiji Islands is 332 of which only 110 are inhabited. The two main islands of the Fiji Islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. We arrived in Nadi (pronounced Nandi) 3 hours from Auckland. Fiji has just gone into it's winter period with temperatures a cool, low 30s. With the heat comes a slowing of pace, it's called 'Fiji time'!
On the 3rd of April the military government declared a state of emergency due to severe flooding throughout Nadi and loca areas, 5 people died and hundreds were evacuated from their houses flooded to the rooftops. When you look at the area you can understand why. The flat plains around Nadi and the heavy clouds which linger around the island due to the larger mountains on Vetu Levu. However, this had been the worst flood since 1965 in the area. New Zealand and Australia sending aid. Tourists were only told to stay away for 2 days. The Fijians rely on tourism and the main tourist areas around the Port of Denerau where the fabulously wealthy own
holiday houses and cruisers, were mainly unaffected.
We headed out to begin our cruise around the Yasawa islands from the port of Denerau. Beginning first in the most Southern Sacred islands where the Fijians apparently first colonised around 3500 years ago by the people of South East Asia as they migrated through the Indonesian archipelago. The Narokorokoyawa Sacred islands are the birthplace of Fijiian culture and are sacred. All visitors must pay respect by presenting yaqona or Kava at the sacred caves. Tongan missionaries arrived here in the early 1800's and since they did not follow protocol they were taken into the cave and were never heard of again. Before alighting at the part of the beach the chief had set aside for Captain Cook cruises a boat went out from the ship to give respect and offerings to the caves!
We then headed up and around the Southern Yasawa Islands, dropping some people off after 3 days, then doing a tour of the Northern Yasawa islands for the second part of the week.
Abel Tasman made the first European contact with Fiji in 1643 reporting an abundant reef and a great hazard to shipping that kept seamen away
until Captain Cook landed in the Lau group and took home reports of fierce warriors.
On Thursday 7th May 1779 a 23 foot boat under sail passed North of the Yasawa islands, in it Captain Bligh of the ill fated HMS Bounty. A week prior mutineers had taken the ship and cast them adrift in a small boat. They spotted 2 canoes and fearful of an encounter Bligh made a speedy retreat- 3 618 miles from Tofua to Timor! Bligh returned to England and was successful in convincing the Admiralty of the guilt of the mutineers. He was given command of HMS Providence and completed the aborted Bounty mission of bringing breadfruit plants from the West Indies.
The introduction of Christianity in the 1840's had a major effect on Fijian culture and ended cannibalism. Fiji became a British colony in 1874. Part of this involved negotiating that no Fijian be put into forced labour. 4 years later the indentured labour system was introduced. Over the next 40 years, 40 000 Indian labourers were brought to the islands.
Fiji gained independence in 1970 after 96 years of colonial rule.
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